Live Review
Electric Theatre, Guildford Sun 13th Sep 1998

"Folk on Tap"

I'll admit it. The first time I ever heard Dick Gaughan I found him incomprehensible. Since then I've always found him a mesmerising performer, even when I wasn't quite on his wavelength. At the Electric Theatre I saw a new aspect of the man - relaxed, mellow even, joking about the Scottish psyche and being rude about Bonnie Prince Charlie.

I found his first set odd. Six songs by other people, mostly well-known, beginning with Si Kahn's What You Do With What You've Got and some finger-breaking guitar and including a couple of Brian McNeill's complex, wordy songs. O.K. but nothing that was uniquely Gaughan. He must have read my thoughts, for he came back after the break, defending his decision to sing other writers' material and decrying his own reputation as a songwriter. He continued partially in the same vein, including Geronimo's Cadillac after Now Westlin Winds but he also gave us what we came for: the passion, the politics and the philosophy and the songs on which his reputation stands: Handful of Earth, Erin-go-bragh, Both Sides the Tweed and Shipwreck. In amongst these was Richard Thomson's wonderful 1952 Vincent Black Lightning which seems an extraordinary choice - Dick Gaughan singing about Box Hill!

Two encores finishing with Phil Ochs' When I'm Gone and it was all over. It was his second major show of the day, so maybe he had been pacing himself in the first half, but he finally gave us the show we wanted and proved, if proof were needed, that he is the guv'nor when it comes to communicating with an audience both with his music and his words.

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